Basics for Search Engine Optimization
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of improving search engine rankings for specific content. Search engines use programs, called “bots”, to read pages all across the internet. These bots not only read the pages, but also audit each of them. Based on this the search engine gives each page a score. How this score is created by each search engine is a tightly held secret. However, there are a few elements that are known to improve results. For the purpose of this article we are only going to invest time in understanding these elements for Google.
Why Just Google?
Google represents around 75% of all searches (Source) on the internet. In fact, Google bots read more than 50 million pages a minute. If you are like us and love data, then I would recommend you go and check out Google Search Statistics to see the data live. It is difficult to grasp the size and scope of Google’s impact on not just search, but on society itself. If you need more reason than that, “just Google it”.
What does Google do?
Imagine that Google owned its own restaurant. In that restaurant Google would not only be the owner, but they would also be the waiter. While Google owns the restaurant, decides what’s on the menu, and serves the meal they do not usually prepare it. In fact, the chefs in this restaurant are the businesses, content creators, and individuals using the internet itself.
How does SEO work?
Continuing the analogy from the previous example of Google owning a restaurant we can explain why SEO works. To optimize the search engine results so you appear closer to the coveted #1 search result each search engine has a secret list of ingredients it believes makes the results on its page the best. This secret recipe is never fully explained, but companies like Google do provide guidelines.
Basic Principles of SEO
Much of what works with SEO is based on the guidelines referenced previously, but a specific and very effective bullet point list taken from the guidelines shows that the guidelines are there to create quality user content not make it easy to manipulate the search results one way or the other.
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
Now that we have gotten the fundamentals of SEO out of the way you can look forward to our next article Learn How to Get Started with SEO.